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Strategic Group Sofia
Yermolaiev Dmytro, geoclimatic researches at Strategic Group Sofia

"The blindness of outdated notions dries up sources of consequences"
Rapid de-occupation of the south-eastern regions of Ukraine will not open up operational opportunities for their redevelopment, the return of evacuated people and the restoration of the local economy. The reason for this lies in a number of man-made and combat-induced factors and, unfortunately, in new natural and climatic conditions that will significantly affect the viability of the territories still occupied by the russian federation. The occupied lands will never be the same as they were in peaceful Ukraine and will not be able to be returned to the pre-war socio-economic state.

The Battle of Verdun was the largest brawl of the First World War. This battle of 1916 lasted 300 days, during which 300 thousand people lost their lives. Intense fighting and shelling forever changed the ecology and geology of the war region. The destruction of the environment as a result of the battle led to the creation of the so-called Red Zone (Zone Rouge). During the First World War, almost 7% of France's territory was plundered. 1200 km² of territory fell into the Red Zone with the following conclusion examinations: "Completely destroyed. Property Damage: 100%. Damage to agriculture: 100%. Can't be cleaned. Human life is impossible." Almost a century after the conflict, there are no human settlements, and access to the territory is physically restricted. There is only one reason - the conflict at Verdun was the first of the major artillery battles of that war. Every year, numerous shells are found on the fields of former battles of the First World War that never exploded. According to Sécurité Civile, the French agency responsible for land management of Zone Rouge, it will take an additional 300 years at the current pace of work to finally clear the area.

From this historical fact, by analogy, it is possible to assume that 1200 km of the line of contact in Ukraine with active hostilities (+-40 km of depth - the mutual range of artillery) in a visual calculation will be 50,000 km² in terms of the area of intense pollution (very conditionally). Even if we halve this number, we get +-25,000 km² of territory heaped with weapons. That is, Ukraine will have to deal with the primary task of cleanup, which is in 1.5-2! times larger in space and man-hours than the French burden of the Red Zone. It will not be possible to fully live, sow, and build in such a post-combat territory for at least 100+ years. Moving the line of contact in any direction multiply the cost of detoxifying territories. Not to mention the problem of local combined water resources that can accumulate chemicals from contaminated soils over time. The so-called Phytoremediation, often recently mentioned in revitalization scenarios, (planting useful industrial crops capable of extracting compounds poisonous to others from soils) is also not a quick solution: for primary soil remediation using this method can It will take 20 years or more, and that's theoretical.
Figure 1 / At the end of 1918, thousands of French municipalities were completely or partially emptied over an area of more than 33,000 km². The Red Territories have become areas of greatest destruction and pollution as a result of intense fighting, artillery shelling, and chemical warfare.
So far, it has only been about the necessary "post-shell" detoxification of territories, but there is also a separate topic of demining itself.

Even experts do not undertake to calculate the cost of complete humanitarian demining of Ukraine with a certain accuracy. However, the Ukrainian government highlighted the amount of 37 billion. (World Bank calculations) and the required time of up to 15 years (although the Balkan example speaks of a minimum of 30 years for 100% demining). 140-170 thousand km2 are considered potentially contaminated. However, there are calculations of 3-5 dollars. per 1m2 of demining/inspection, which translates into the amount of 400-500 billion, for the entire territory. Therefore, it is advisable to leave the average amount of 200 billion dollars as a benchmark of the demining costs for the entire duration of this process.

Even before the active phase of the war (until 2022), the previous stage of the occupation of the territories of the Ukrainian Donbas launched the processes of geological and ecological destruction of the region, which are currently at the final stage.

The impact of the Russian invasion on the abrupt interruption of the work of the old industrial complex and the inaction of the occupation authorities resulted in the following consequences.

Approximately 70 out of 93 mines remained on the territory of Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine and in 2014-2021 more than 70% of coal enterprises closed there, that is, there is neither production nor maintenance. Some of the mines are extremely explosive, others are flooded. And this factor of flooding unites all points:

1) The strength of land surface is lost, there is an active deformation of rocks in the foundations of environmentally hazardous objects, such as sedimentation tanks for toxic waste, the so-called tailings dumps, etc. >(100+ objects);

2) Penetration of toxic pollutants from external sources into surface and underground water bodies (leakage and direct spillage as a result of the collapse of the soil "cushion"), as well as contamination of water intakes for drinking water supply;

3) Pollution of the atmosphere from mine workings and other objects with highly toxic unstable compounds in liquid and gaseous forms (leakage of "tailings" into the water horizon of mines and, as a result, the combination of toxic substances with the horizon of mine waters);

4) Contamination along the food chain with highly toxic compounds (through the surface of the earth and water into the local bio life);

5) Sinking underground in urban agglomerations. A massive catastrophic decommissioning of buildings (collapse of the housing stock, including high-rise buildings), structures and communications, including underground gas pipelines, sewerage and water supply systems, and elements of the regional centralized water supply of Donbass is on the way. A considerable number of territories will suffer this fate irrevocably: the speed of launched geological and environmental processes exceeds the speed of deployment of hypothetical rescue measures. Under any scenario the deformation of the surface in cities over old mine workings is irreversible: in fact, we are talking about the projected loss of viability of a number of densely populated areas.

This generally leads the region down a path of complete loss of ecological viability potential. Fragmentation of landscapes took place: alternation of small pieces of viable areas with a stable landscape and many flooded and swampy mineralized, poisoned areas.

Donbas has historically had a shortage of water and is largely dependent on the water tributaries of the Siverskyi Donets-Donbas canal and the Siverskyi Donets itself. In the 50s and 70s of the last century, the region was clogged with reservoirs and ponds that were used for drinking, agricultural water supply, industry, fish farming and the development of irrigated agriculture. And all these extremely vital and monopolistic components of the local water infrastructure are directly dependent on the system of mines in the region, which have flooded and the contents of which have merged into this entire aquatic semi-artificial system - everything is extensively and powerfully polluted. The external inflow of fresh water into the dry Donbas steppe has been cut off by the war. The Siverskyi Donets-Donbas canal was destroyed by the Russians. And the pompous Don-Donetsk canal, which was hastily built by 2023 for objective reasons, can provide only a single percentage of the water that the connection between the Siverskyi Donets and the canal from the Dnieper itself, which feeds and compensates for the intake from the Siverskyi Donets, is able to provide.

There are no more drinking horizons in the contours of the Donbas. The water either "went" after the mine workings, or its level of mineralization and pollution went beyond the limits permissible for humans. Only about 10% of normal fresh water remains here, and even then on the periphery.

The chance to ensure the preservation of Donbas through "ecological peace" for the russian federation has passed. One of the declared objects of the war has already been destroyed – the territory with its resources that are in limited demand on the world market will not be able to reproduce in its old quality (and it is not about the "green deal", which nullifies the demand for old products of Donbass, and not about the fact that Indonesia now produces more affordable coal than the entire USSR in peak years), but the fact is that that even before February 24, 2022, the Russians pulled the trigger, which turned a large part of Donbas into Ukrainian Zone Rouge or zombie territories. The experience of the French territories of intense fighting shows the probability of the formation of large chunks of land that fall out of the history of mankind for centuries! The so-called "buffer zone" (geo-ecological) has already been created, but the russian leadership does not admit it to itself.

On the territory of Donetsk and Luhansk regions there are 200 tailings dams that can accommodate 939 million tonnes of industrial waste. Most of them have been damaged, are structurally unstable, or will be destroyed by military operations. Area of industrial zones Donetsk and Luhansk regions is about 200 thousand hectares. (2000 km2).

To understand how much it will cost Ukraine to bring most of the industrial sites to an ecological order, it is worth looking at the experience of large, experienced industrial countries. We must understand that changes in the global division of labor simply leave no chance for the economically justified preservation of many dirty enterprises and scraped coal mines in the Donbas. In the end, the occupation authorities officially admit that the mining region should forget its legendary name (all local low-cost resources were taken out during the Soviet era with the beginning of the industry crisis in the 1980s). Of course, it will be possible to build a new industry in the region on certain resources, but this will require the involvement of Western technological competence and will definitely be less labor-intensive (what is this new economy - see: Yermolaev Dmytro. New Post-War Donbas: Ukrainian Version of the Future).

Example. Revitalization of industrial facilities in Canada.

Royal Oak Mines Inc.'s former Yellowknife gold mine has gone bankrupt and the federal government has taken responsibility for its environmental commitments. The clean-up of the facility, which covers nine square kilometers, includes demolishing the city site, freezing underground chambers containing 237,000 tons of highly toxic dust, filling open pits and treating contaminated water. Active recovery began in 2021 and, It is expected to be completed in 2038 (i.e. at least 15 years per facility). After the deadline, the site will require constant care and maintenance. This will cost $4.38 billion.

The Faro Mine is once the world's largest open-pit lead-zinc mine. The area is 25 square kilometers. Seventy million tons of tailings dams and 320 million tons of waste rock. The cleanup will cost $1 billion over 15 years.

Mine United Keno Hill – $125 million. The site extends over 150 km2 and includes numerous quarries, waste rock dumps and tailings dams.

If we correlate the total industrial area of the occupied Donbas territories with the estimate of the Canadian Faro mine in terms of the net area of the facility, we reach 80 billion dollars. Without taking into account any work with underground mines, without work on the demolition of abandoned industries buildings, without taking into account their disposal and the construction of enterprises that will be able to provide disposal work with hazardous chemicals of tailings dumps and mine water (when we recalculated according to the estimate of Canada, it is worth remembering that the country already has an industry to perform such work). It can be assumed that the creation of such an industry from scratch (+ the complexity of working with mine waters and flooding - the entire permanent drainage system will have to be restored) will require an increase in the previous amount by 1.5 times: from 80 billion dollars. up to $120 billion

It will also be necessary to restore the Siverskyi Donets-Donbas canal (to provide water for irrigation of agricultural areas outside industrial zones and to the population and enterprises of certain promising areas and revitalization) - this is about 5 billion US dollars plus.

DESERT SOUTH or shifting of priority development areas.

Since the beginning of 2024, the development of the worst-case scenario for accelerating global warming (RSP 8.5) has been recorded and monitored - global warming is expected to be 2°C by 2037. What does this mean?

Vira Balabukh (Head of the Department of Applied Meteorology and Climatology of the Ukrainian Hydrometeorological Institute). On the impact of climate change on the south of Ukraine: "The greatest changes are likely in the spring-summer season and will be manifested in a decrease in the moisture content of the atmosphere and, accordingly, cloudiness, and precipitation. This region belongs to the zone of risky farming in Ukraine. Rising air temperatures and increasing moisture deficits, which are superimposed by global climate change, can lead to increased aridity and desertification of the large areas of the region. The risk of dust storms, dry winds, and extreme fire danger will increase."

Our extreme south is rapidly running into a state of semi-desert with a lack of its own water resources, and after the destruction of the Kakhovka dam - a completely waterless region, because the system of artificial maintenance of water supply by canals from the Dnieper (which were in a state of maximum wear and tear even before the dam was blown up) was disrupted. According to the latest research by our leading scientists: "Assessment of the availability of water resources in the South of Ukraine after the destruction of the Kakhovka reservoir made it possible to establish that under the influence of further climate change and the resumption of the use of available water resources of the Dnipro River, it is possible to form a shortage of water resources in the summer-autumn period, especially in low-water years.... The climatic factor can significantly worsen the water management situation in the hydrological year... in low-water years – from July to November (note: that is, we are talking about an almost six-month shortage of available water from the lower reaches of the Dnieper in the coming years during the specified period). This means that even without the war and without the destruction of the dam, Ukraine would have to think about a rational rethinking of regional water supply schemes: a more climatically temperate and more densely populated right bank of the Dnieper is at stake against the artificial "non-desert" of the Left Bank (which is experiencing a permanent increase in average temperatures, droughts and is fed with water purely from an artificial canal system).

Last year's publication Assessing the Change of Climatic Seasons in Ukraine During the 21st Century finally spelled out the changes of seasons, focusing on recent observations of the recent acceleration of global warming. The following are quotes from the study:

Recent and projected future warming will cause a change in the duration of climatic seasons in Ukraine with a corresponding shift in the dates of their beginning and end - summer expands and absorbs spring and autumn.

Forecast for three future periods: short-term 2021-2040, medium-term 2041-2060 and long-term 2081-2100.

• By the end of the century, under the RSP 8.5 scenario, changes in climatic seasons range from 40 to almost 70 days, increasing from east to west.

• The area with the longest growing season (240 to 260 days) will stretch almost 200 km to the north.

According to the RSP8.5 scenario, the duration of summer can vary from 140 days in the north to more than six months! in Crimea and in the south of the Odessa region!

At the end of the 21st century, the predicted summer in Polissia will be the same as in Crimea now - 140-160 days. Previously, such climatic conditions were not observed in Ukraine. Increasing the duration of the growing season and the period of active vegetation will strengthen the agro-climatic potential of Ukraine and contribute to higher crop yields. However, the last statement applies to the temperate western and central-northern regions. After all, according to the calculations of experts of the Odessa State Environmental University, due to climate change, by 2035 the yield of corn will almost halve, by a third of winter wheat, by 40% of potatoes, and by 70% of spring barley in the corresponding southern region.

The agro-climatic zone with the norm of yield and with its usual crops from the extreme south (Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Odesa) will naturally shift to the north (watermelons of Kryvyi Rih, not Kherson regions, will go on barges along the Dnieper).

A goal-oriented approach in all war scenarios will force Ukraine to reorient and direct water resources, agricultural crops, enterprises and efforts to regions that will take over the former parameters of natural economic resources of the south. The only alternative is to build a completely new irrigation system anew, which will be able to work adequately in dry years only and only if there is a restored reservoir and flooding of the Great Meadow, which has just begun to recover. This will require another $2 billion (7 years for construction) + $1 billion for irrigation for every million hectares.

Limited development resources require a new and sober look at the places and times of maximum collective efforts, determining a different priority and expediency.
ХВОСТОСХОВИЩА ДОНБАСУ. https://www.osce.org/files/f/documents/b/b/456847.pdf
"Економічний розвиток Донбасу" - Світовий банк
Віра Балабух: В Україну переселятимуться "кліматичні біженці" з Африки і Азії: https://www.rbc.ua/rus/styler/interv-yu-klimatologom-viroyu-balabuh-1706691768.html
Сніжко Сергій, Запотоцький Сергій, Шевченко Ольга, Олексієнко Інна, Дідовець Юлій, Бронстерт Аксель, 2023 «ВПЛИВ РУЙНУВАННЯ КАХОВСЬКОГО ВОДОСХОВИЩА НА ВОДНІ РЕСУРСИ ПІВДНЯ УКРАЇНИ»
Оцінка зміни кліматичних сезонів в Україні протягом 21 століття на основі ансамблю з 34 RCM проекцій Euro-CORDEX ): Краковська, С., Балабух, В., Чигарєва, А., Шпиталь, Т., Писаренко, Л., Трофімова, І., Криштоп, Л.: Оцінка змін кліматичних сезонів в Україні протягом 21 століття на основі ансамблю з 34 прогнозів RCM Euro-CORDEX, Генеральна Асамблея EGU 2023, Відень, Австрія, 24–28 квітня 2023 р.
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